Start kids early with computer science

BOSTON (WWLP) —  

State lawmakers say there are about 2 people unemployed for every one job in Massachusetts, but there’s only one person for every 2 science, tech, engineering or math job available. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these so-called STEM jobs pay well and have 150,000 openings annually.

“Companies are finding it difficult to fill these positions so they are going abroad sometimes.  We should be able to motivate our students and inspire them to go into these fields,” said Sen. Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). 

The state Legislature's new Tech Hub Caucus met for the first time Wednesday. Part of their mission is to grow tech sector jobs, and getting kids interested in math and science is essential to that. Sen. Spilka has filed a bill that requires all public schools to have standard computer science curriculums.  Top tech innovators say it’s important to get kids interested in computer science before high school.

“A lot of kids in 8 th and 9 th grade who haven’t been exposed to computing, definitely an indication that they’re not likely to go back and become interested in it or even if they do their interest is not likely to hold up over time,” said Steve Vinter, an engineering director at Google.

While Massachusetts does a good job of attracting tech savvy students to its college campuses, the state often loses that talent to Silicon Valley.  The Commonwealth is also facing tough competition from New York City, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg is investing a lot of money in the tech sector.

“[Bloomberg’s] also done a great job of building partnerships with private industry and government and all the major universities.  He’s got them working together to support some big tech projects,” said Annemarie Levins, who serves as associate general counsel at Microsoft.  “We haven’t yet quite bubbled it up to the same level as happening in New York and that’s what I think we have to do.”

If a recent survey by tech company Raytheon is any indication, Massachusetts has a lot of work to do.  1,000 middle school students across the country were asked what they preferred, doing math homework or eating broccoli.  More than half said eating broccoli.

 

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